07/28/2014 12:32PM

No Beyers for Gulfstream's 4 1/2-furlong races

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Beyer Speed Figures will no longer be assigned to 4 1/2-furlong races at Gulfstream Park. Previously published figures for the distance have been expunged.

“We are uncertain about the accuracy of the times at the distance,” said Andrew Beyer, creator of the figures, “and we have no way to verify them.”

Unlike most tracks, Gulfstream neither starts races at the 4 1/2-furlong pole nor ends them at the traditional finish line. Gulfstream’s races begin behind the five-furlong pole and end at its alternate finish line, which is about 20 yards past the pole that is one-sixteenth of a mile from the main finish line.

“The horses travel a total distance of about 4 3/4 furlongs,” said Pat Cummings, business manager of Trakus, the company that times the races at Gulfstream.

The Trakus system calculates the time of the race by locating the point on the track that is 4 1/2 furlongs from the finish. However, there are no poles or other landmarks at the point where the timing begins, and Cummings acknowledged, “Trying to hand-time the race is nearly impossible.”

Gulfstream began carding 4 1/2-furlong races for 2-year-olds this summer, and they produced an unusual number of fast times and high speed figures. Of the 12 fastest Beyers run by 2-year-olds in the United States this year, four were recorded at Gulfstream’s 4 1/2-furlong distance – more than in New York and California combined.

The Gulfstream speed figures for 2-year-olds at 4 1/2 furlongs were significantly higher than those at five furlongs, further clouding the accuracy of the figures at the shorter distance.

“We can make accurate figures at almost every distance at every track in the United States,” Beyer said. “But we don’t want to run the risk of publishing information that could mislead either bettors or owners who might buy a 2-year-old on the basis of a high figure. Instead of using this convoluted distance, couldn’t Gulfstream run its baby races at five furlongs?”